Should India impose a complete ban on plastic?
Plastic pollution is one of the greatest hazards faced by our environment. As per studies, we are dumping away sufficient plastic which can circle the globe four times. The worst thing is that almost 50 per cent of the plastic is thrown after the first use. Though many countries and cities have imposed ban on plastic, statistics clearly indicate that the ban has never been effective. The major use of plastics happens in restaurants and in the form of bottles. Recently, Hawaii State in the US decided to ban plastic at restaurants, which in turn will cut down on waste that pollutes the ocean.
Similarly, San Francisco became the first city to ban the sale of plastic water bottles. This will urge the people to buy a reusable glass bottle and the most exciting part is that violating this ban can gift you a fine up to $1,000. Now, the European Union parliament has voted to ban single-use plastics such as straws, forks and knives by 2021.
Maharashtra, Telangana, Himachal Pradesh and Tamil Nadu were the first four states in India to impose ban on single-use plastics. Uttar Pradesh and Karnataka have also banned products which qualify as single-use plastics, but haven’t used the term in their notifications. Sikkim banned the use of plastic bags in 1998. In Tamil Nadu, 86 tonnes of banned plastics were seized from 25,000 shops in January, which lowered to 24 tonnes in February and further lowered to seven tonnes in March.
However, reports suggest that in spite of the ban in the state, manufacturers and traders are getting back to the old ways. Plastic is still being used widely in city markets.
Isn’t it high time that India imposed a complete ban on plastic? Latest studies propose that the consumption of water and food in plastic bottles and packages is extremely harmful to health, as plastic contains various harmful chemicals. Shouldn’t we start using paper containers, glass bottles or even steel straws instead of plastic materials? There are even bamboo bottles in market which can be used instead of plastic bottles. Why are we not exploring such alternative and safe options? Is it to help the plastic manufacturers? Should we promote the use of biodegradable plastics more? Though biodegradable plastics are said to be less harmful, won’t it attribute to climate change? As implemented in San Francisco city, will imposing a fine on those who use plastic cut down its usage?
Public support vital
Plastic is everywhere and we have realised that it is a very bad thing. It’s time for all of us to come forward and support plastic ban. However, it is going to be a challenge in our country. One reason is that it is cheaper. It’s hard to simply ban plastic from our daily lives. The best solution from our country’s perspective is to focus on preventing improper disposal or even limiting the use of certain plastic items. The government has banned use of plastic bags, but it should be enforced strictly and consumers should be educated about cheaper options. Awareness camps should be organised with the help of NGOs to create awareness about the consequences of plastic pollution. Use of biodegradable plastic and a zero-waste philosophy should be embraced by the government and the public. I believe it’s not about banning plastic, but about seeking support from the public to overcome a big environmental threat.
Abhishek Bhargava,Environment Activist
Solution lies with us
In my opinion, the only solution to this problem lies with each one of us. People widely believe plastic is the problem, but the real problem is disposable plastic. We have to practise refuse and reduce single-use plastic. In my guest house, I have put up a chart of seven single-use swaps and how trash you can save by changing up few things in your homes. For example, one bamboo brush is equivalent to four tooth brushes we use. A usable water bottle is equal to 167 plastic water bottles. The plastic shopping bags are one of the main culprits. I have replaced those with one cloth bag that I tell my guests to use whenever they want. I think it’s the small things that we do every day that make the biggest difference.
Ajith Vishwanathan, Nature Lover
Plastic is widely used as it is easy to manufacture, cheap and user-friendly. Plastic is non-biodegradable, and therefore may take centuries to millennium for it to disintegrate. Measures have been taken in several states of the U.S.A., European Union and even in a few Indian states to reduce plastic usage, but has never been effective. Modern day biotechnology is of utmost importance in different socio-economic areas, in nano/bio-technology, medicinal and several different domains. Degradation of plastic due to bacterial consumption is eventually coming into limelight.
A team of Japanese co-workers has found out enzyme catalysis associated plastic degrading bacteria, to ultimately degrade plastic polymers. In India, even government-aided organisations are promoting relevant researches, and further, applications to relevant wastage areas, in treating plastic pollution.
Prathit Chatterjee, Research Associate
Go for recycling
Plastic ban does sound like an effective solution, however just a ban on polythene or its kind is not going to help. I work in event management, and the amount of plastic waste that one event creates in terms of posters, banners and other components, needs to be tackled with a proper large-scale recycling techniques. None of these posters or plastic banners are reused and they go straight to the dump. Therefore, recycling is not only a cost-effective idea, it is also sustainable in the long-run. Corporates need to come up with more bio-degradable approaches and materials to cater to their commercial needs.
Sashidhar Kocharlakota, event management professional
Public should demand ban
“Plastic is very essential in today’s lifestyle” — this is what most of us would say and it is a manufactured situation, since we end up relying a lot on comfort, fast-paced uses, and a luxurious seeming culture of use and throw. What we do not realise is the enormous amount of health and environmental impact these are bringing to us. A lot of times we ignore the fact that an extra two minutes of preparedness before getting out of house can help us take simple steps like carrying a small steel box, spoon, fork, straw and 1-2 cloth bags, and we are sorted. I believe that the need to implement ban should be a demand from consumers who are educated about their rights and choices. We end up blaming current pollution without realising that each product contributes. The rule of thumb is, if your grandma survived without this, then it need not be in your life too. This can be practised with alternatives.
Kavya Menon, Ecofeminist